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Oct 18

EY Road Race League 2015 – Rounds 3 – 8: A view from near the back

I’m just about hanging on to my forties and upped my game in road cycling around three or four years ago…

after I sold an old Dynatech (Raleigh) Aspin road bike I had hanging on the shed wall for several years (it was too big).

As soon as I sold the bike I regretted it and had to get another bike as soon as possible. I bought myself a Ribble winter bike, did the Big G a few times, then a few TTs and then an email dropped into my inbox about Mark Walker’s winter training rides. Two of Mark’s winter training sessions, and a course of Jim Sampson’s winter training, and here I am, road racing this season for the very first time…

EYRRL Round 3 – Little Weighton

I liked the look of this circuit with the climb up White Gap Road and that fab cambered bend round Rowley manner, this time I wouldn’t be messing about.

The weather on the night was sunny with a westerly fair breeze, typical for the area, perfect. I had company again with Craig Boddice, I didn’t mention anything about the champagne after the last race. It wasn’t long before the second group caught us, half way around the second lap if I recall correctly. This time I felt more confident and was feeling strong enough to go with them. After a lap with the merged groups I asked Craig how he was feeling, “Hanging on” was his response, I was feeling great and at the end of the third lap was wondering what my tactics were going to be for the finish. Keep it simple, hang on to the bunch, sprint from the junction near the finish line.

On the last lap descent from Weedley I was picking wheels at will and flying. I could almost taste the champagne and hear the applause, come on, not far to go I was thinking. Craig was looking good, was that a bit of gamemanship “Hanging on” earlier, hmm. We got to Rowley and for the last time hit that fab bend at 40+ mph I was starting to feel the strain.

Craig shouted “Now’s the time to go” as a group began to merge in front. I tried to push but was hoping I could freewheel to the group as it was only 10 metres in front, but try as I might I couldn’t bridge that gap. Just before the bend before the Little Weighton village signpost I thought I’d have one last dig. I was feeling good, breathing OK, a bit of pain in the legs, one big push and I’d be there.

So push I did, however, and this was a first for me, as soon as I told my legs to push, they ignored me. I tried again, nothing, the tank was empty. I started giggling to myself as I watched the group sail up the hill and into the distance. I felt great and empty all at the time of my legs giving up on me, weird. I’ve no idea why, maybe I’d got ahead of myself and pushed too hard on the descent from Weedley. I soon recovered and trundled over to the finish line. My better half was videoing the end, she had to stop it in between waiting for the end of the group and me turning up, I think she was worried about running out of phone memory.

Craig had got placed again, chapeau to him and again he’d been great company, though I’m not sure about his gamesmanship, I’ll have to keep an eye on him.

And so that was the end of my second road race and I was feeling more confident and looking forward to see how the season panned out.

 

Video of Little Weighton finish here:
https://youtu.be/07zqKiX18i0.

 

Here’s a quick summary of the next few races.

EYRRL Round 4 – Etton

Flatter than Walkington and Little Weighton, with a quicker average lap speed than both. I was feeling a bit under the weather but finished around 30 seconds off the back of the end of the Group 1 after fading on the ramp off the last corner. A moment of note being – finding myself in the bunch on the last lap with Danny Posnett, Graham Morgan and other great local riders I’d seen winning races.

I couldn’t believe it I was in the same group as them! I didn’t keep the company with them for long, once we hit that last ramp, off they went… The winner, Paul Rymer ended up rolling over the line with his tub was hanging off, luckily he had a nice margin to be able to take the foot off the gas at the end.

 

Video of Etton finish here:
https://youtu.be/wueuA5iWXJQ.

EYRRL Round 5 – Kilham

Similar to Walkington but more of a rolling circuit, things were pretty steady up until the last lap. Young Thursday rider Josh Ravn beckoned me to get on the back of his Group as they railed through us not far from the last corner. However I was pretty spent and was saving myself to duke it out with my compatriots. My duking out came to nothing but now I was getting closer, I was around 10 seconds off the end of the back of the Group 1 finish (around 40 seconds off the winner).

 

Video of Kilham finish here:
https://youtu.be/_79wep5KdaI.

EYRRL Round 6 – Etton

The weather was around 25 degrees Celsius, for us in the North, otherwise known as boiling/ I was worried how I’d cope with the heat and so I planned to use a secret weapon, a thermos flask full of cold water. I’d got one of those nifty flasks that fit in your bottle cage, I’d refrigerate the water all day and just before the start of the race drink the cooled water and refresh myself to perfection whilst the other riders suffered their warm and sugary yeuck.

My psychological advantage 1, the rest of ’em 0, game over. Nice idea, but just before the start of the race it started chucking it down with rain, the wind got up, it was soon bloomin freezing. I’d lost my advantage but was feeling good, I was also running with new supersonic lightweight (50g) inner tubes, and I’d just topped up my tyres to 120 psi using Craig Boddice’s track pump, my psychological advantage remained.

We soon settled into a good pace, delicately taking the corners everyone taking it steady, great. The through and off was a bit hit and miss but we got a bit of pace going by the second lap. I’m not sure if it was the drop in temperature or my growing confidence but I was feeling pretty strong and was finding myself at the front of Group 1 on plenty of occasions.

On lap 6 I’d decided to go on the ramp at the “hairpin”, I had a word with Craig Boddice about going with me I think he replied “Yeah alright”. I was flying and feeling really good, the faster groups caught us on lap 5, the pace increased significantly. I settled into the new faster pace and was looking forward to having a go at the local top talent on that last but one climb.

On the previous race at Etton I remembered really struggling at this point of the race. This time I was feeling fresh and ready to have a go. Was it the weather, or that I was simply feeling better, or was I simply toughening up? Either way I didn’t get opportunity to try out my tactic as I punctured just around a kilometre before the penultimate climb.

That was the second puncture in two rides using the Conti Supersonic inner tubes, bad luck, bad roads, bad innertubes, who knows? I felt gutted as I watched the race go away, that moment to be lost forever. An offer of a lift from the lovely ladies providing vehicle support was much appreciated but I just wanted to sulk on my own and walked back to the finish line catching Danny Posnett take another fine win.

 

Video of Etton finish here:
https://youtu.be/E4C6iwIfE9U.

EYRRL Round 7 – Little Weighton

I was looking forward to seeing how I’d cope with my second attempt at this course, it was my favourite by far, nice and lumpy, uphill finish, made to measure. On my last attempt I’d faded badly just before Little Weighton on the last lap. On this occasion I’d felt really good all the way round, a couple of Petuaria lads kept dangling themselves out front . On the last lap a lad riding on his own asked me if I fancied bridging the gap over to them, I felt I didn’t have the confidence to go for it.

The last lap was soon upon us, I was heading the group at times, and then rest of the groups joined us, now back in the bunch but fancying myself to keep with them. As we got to the last bend before Little Weighton the pace upped and my group was pretty much smashed to pieces. Memories of my last race at Little Weighton started to weigh on my mind as my legs began to feel heavier and heavier as the bunch started to go away again.

Then out of the blue I felt a friendly shove on my back with a shout of “Go go, go on”. My spirit lifted, I found a bit of energy for a push to get me back on the bunch. Rod from Cliff Pratt’s had noticed me flagging, and gave me that handing help, it was much appreciated, that tiny bit of help really lifted me. I stuck on the group until White Gap Road the bunch a little away from me but I got my best finish.Video of Little Weighton finish here:
https://youtu.be/8btAzLpfz18.

EYRRL Round 8 – Walkington

I was sort of looking forward to putting right some wrongs on this circuit. It had been the place of my very first road race and cycling the last couple laps pretty much on my own wasn’t much fun. It’s pretty hard seeing the marshalls not on the corners before you’ve finished as you know the game is well and truly over.

I’d been emailing Craig of http://www.repair2ride.co.uk/ about potential tactics for the last race. Craig agreed to pull us up the hill and we’d go from there. When you’ve got limited ability the application of a tactic can be just fantasy, but at the Little Weighton race the Peturaria boys did a great job of breaking away on the last lap and got placed well, and let’s face it where’s the harm in trying?

Things were going well and I’d noticed a new HTRC rider, a big strong lad who kept riding upfront keeping himself well placed. Andy Carroll was also riding it had been a while since I’d seen, great news he was back racing again (though had been doing well in the TTs).

This was the last road race league of the year and when and other groups caught us the pace felt blistering. The last ascent up to High Hunsley pushed me to my absolute limit and I was sat on Craig’s wheel for pretty much all of it. We were distanced by the front group but they were within sight, we’d reel them in on the descent. Hope you giggled after you read that last sentence!

On the descent back to Walkington the front group pulled away and fragmented, we got near two riders who were at each other’s throats, I think it was a about being sat on wheels. Craig made a great dash at the finish (I’ve no idea where he finds it) and again I made I think what was my best finish.

Video of Walkington finish here:
http://youtu.be/dHjGKcWCDz4.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read I really enjoyed my first year of road racing. I’m hoping to have the confidence to try a few open races next year and I’ll be tweaking a few things in my training and diet. I’m looking forward to Mark W’s and Jim’s Winter training, roll on 2016!

 

Don’t forget if you’ve got pics/videos, or want to write something up, send it to the website editor at website@htrc.co.uk.

 

Photos of the EYRRL 2015 can be viewed on Craig Zad’s website

 

Mike McAllister
HTRC Member